The Government has earmarked more than $56 million to support Māori communities and businesses feeling the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The bulk of that funding, some $30 million, has been made available for targeted health funding for Māori.

A further $10 million is for whanau Māori community outreach and $15 million will go towards Whānau Ora to reach into Māori communities.

Associate Health and Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare
Associate Health and Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare

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And $1 million has been made available to provide Māori businesses with advice and planning tools to tackle the economic impact of Covid-19.

Associate Health and Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare said many elements of the Government's $12.1 billion economic support package, announced last week, would help many Māori across the country.

"But as Māori ministers we know there are specific challenges for Māori that require a specific response," he said.

"We know that we need to help our people and provide targeted support to Māori businesses and help our vulnerable Māori communities.

Henare said many Māori can't solely rely on them engaging with the health system.

Instead, he said: "We must engage with our people, in their neighbourhoods, communities and homes".

The $30 million in targeted funding would go towards Māori health providers, Whānau Ora agencies and iwi.

The money would be spent on providing financial support for Māori provider networks to enable them to meet increased demand, as well as backfilling any additional workforce needs.

Guidelines to help Māori prepare for self-isolation, particularly when self-isolating as part of a large family group, will be developed and Community Based Assessment Centres will be set up in Māori communities.


"We are also redirecting an extra $15 million to Whānau Ora commissioning agencies.

They can reach into our communities and help our most vulnerable whanau," Henare said.

Meanwhile, Employment Minister Willie Jackson has asked officials to change some of the terms of the Government's employment and skills programme, He Poutama Rangatahi, to help with the Covid-19 response.

"I have asked officials to vary the contracts for these programmes, to enable over 2000 young people to work alongside Māori health providers and Whānau Ora Navigators, to deliver important community and health services to Māori, particularly our kuia, kaumatua and those already isolated," Jackson said.

Henare says this tailored package will provide the additional help needed to support Māori communities and businesses through Covid-19.

"Times like these can be incredibly stressful so it's important that we make manaakitanga and kōtahitanga the centre of our response."

Focus: How to stop the spread of coronavirus. Video / AP / Mark Mitchell